Bean Counter: Millennials Drive Boot Backorders Toward 100,000

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In the 1980s, there was a trend at my high school in sunny California for LL Bean’s classic rubber boot, worn year-round, of course.

Fashions come in cycles ever generation or so, and today the morning news is carrying the story that there are some 60,000 backorders for Bean boots, with another 40,000 expected by the end of the year.

According to  Boston.com:

Between 60,000-100,000 people have placed orders for the boots that won’t be delivered until after the holidays, according to L.L. Bean spokesperson Carolyn Beem. In all, the company said they anticipate selling “in the range” of 450,000 pairs of bean boots this year, a significant increase over last year.

Why the increase in sales? Well, blame teens and millennials.

“Younger people are buying them. They’re all over college campuses and high schools,” Beem said. “Without changing anything, they’re back in style.”

In an attempt to make up the shortage, L.L. Bean spent $1 million to purchase another molding machine that makes the rubber bottoms of the shoes, Beem said. The rubber bottoms are made in Lewiston, Maine, while the stitching of the leather tops takes place in Brunswick, Maine.

“We’ve bumped up production – we have three shifts going, we’re hiring new people,” Beem said. “We’re doing all we can to lessen the wait time.”

The Bean Boot, also known as the Maine Hunting Shoe, was created by Leon Leonwood Bean in 1912. Wonder if the kids care about trivia?

And for those of you who celebrate St. Nicholas Day, leaving a boot outside on the night of December 5th, make sure it’s not from Bean. It might not be there in the morning. — CC

28 Comments on "Bean Counter: Millennials Drive Boot Backorders Toward 100,000"

  1. Great boots, especially the 12 inch for upland game. I’ve had too many pair over the decades to count, but never wore them other than in the field.

  2. I, too, wear mine for actual hunting, and they’re good. I try not to wear them on the street much, because once that tread wears off, you might as well be wearing ice skates. Still, glad to hear that – trend or not – Bean is briskly selling one of their “legit” items.

  3. A good example of how it starts: took a girl out on a date. She saw my bean boots (it was a rainy day). She then proceeded to order a pair the next day, being a recent New England “transplant” from California. On campus I must’ve seen over 50 pairs of bean boots over the span of an hour yesterday.

  4. I love Bean boots. I just moved to NYC from southern california, and buying a pair of these boots was something I looked forward to from day 1. In the city, in the country, I wear them every chance I get.

    ALso, they seem really inexpensive for what they are. Made in USA? Heritage Brand? If they were like Ben Sherman, J Press, Filson or any of the like they would be triple the price.

  5. I hate to say it, but my guess is KJP has a lot to do with the resurgence. They feature prominently in his social media pictures, and given his popularity with that cohort, I am not surprised to see them co-opt the look.

  6. That would explain why my younger son (in college) recently asked for a pair of these.

  7. “Without changing anything, (Bean Boots are) back in style.”

    Once again, there’s nothing new under the sun.

    I wore my father’s Maine Hunting Shoes to do chores as a teenager in Virginia circa 1965.

    Today Maine Hunting Shoes have a different rubber sole composition from the Bean Boot and come in only dark brown uppers.

    Currently I have five pair – relatively new 14″ MHS, 12″ MHS and 100th anniversary 12″ MHS, and 20+ year old [airs of 8″ insulated MHS and low cut Gum Shoes.

    Bean Boots are relatively rare here in the Western mountains – especially Cascades and Northern Rockies – where sturdier rubber/leather pacs are required for steeper terrain and occupations such as logging and electric utility work or special shaped toes for horse riding. Preferred brands are Schnee and Kentrek (Bozeman), Whites (Spokane) or Hoffman (Kellogg, ID). Of course the annual production of all these firms combines does not match that of LL Bean.

  8. @Im 12:35 – My sophomore son at Auburn has the 8″ pair I bought 30+ years ago when I lived in NYC. I had them resoled twice; Bean asked me not send them back again after the second time. He’s been wearing them for at least a couple of years but much more often recently. I had no idea he was so fashionable. BTW, I got my third pair of the slip-ons about a year ago only after holes started to show in the previous pair (which I am still wearing for yard work). Great product. Great value.

  9. When did they start labeling them “Been Boots”?

  10. Bean, sorry.

  11. I guess I can thank my generational cohorts for the fact that I couldn’t replace mine over the weekend. I’m on the wait list till February. Real shame. What a coup for Land’s End it would be if they could get their hands on the contact information of those like me on the wait list and sell them their knockoff version.

  12. I have worn Bean Boots in urban and suburban shlush, wet snow, and below-zero conditions for 50 years. They are clunky, uncomfortable, they don’t breathe, and they offer little or no foot support or traction. If you are into winter hiking, camping, or hunting, there are far better alternatives. But they kept many a GI free from foot-rot during the last winter months of World War II, which means something. And they might remind L.L. Bean that some of their older styles are still desirable.

  13. The 10″ MHS (Maine Hunting Shoe) was perfect for campus between October and March. The MHS, a pair of penny loafers, and a pair of sneakers, and one was all set.

    I bought a pair of the 100th Anniversary MHS’s last year. Pricey. Highly recommend.

  14. I’m a fan, wore them all over the Swiss Alps and the UK last summer, fantastic shoes. I must be one of the blessed few that find them very comfortable, as well as practical. I’m sure if I sacrificed looks I could find the ultimate ergonomic boot, but vanity usually prevails…I like ’em.

  15. Ultraconservative Dresser | December 6, 2014 at 1:31 am |

    Am I the only reader of this blog who finds these boots clownish?

  16. I wore my current pair today. I have the Bean Boot variant with the navy blue waxed canvas uppers they came out with a few years ago. I wore them because it was raining all day, and the streets and sidewalks of NY are mickle puddlesome.

  17. DSF — “clunky, uncomfortable,” no traction, etc., yet you’ve been wearing them for fifty years? Can you elaborate on why?

    Sorry to be negative, but I bought my first and only pair when I moved to Maine and found them not at all useful for the winter. The unlined rubber lowers did nothing to keep out the cold. And they weren’t good for going uphill either; no ankle support and slippery on some surfaces.

    The description on the Bean website for the Maine Hunting Boot says the sole is good for the forest. That makes sense — good for hunting in damp weather, maybe, and maybe for rain in the city, but not an all-round boot.

  18. @ Ultraconservative Dresser: No, you’re not.

    I’ve been buying black boots for more than 30 years now. In the city the brown Bean boots suggest a young person in a lumberjack costume, not the look I want for myself.

  19. I can see why many find these boots a bit goofy — when taken strictly on their own design merit, they ARE a bit clunky and goofy. But the appeal of these for me does not lie strictly in their design; it lies in the history, comfort, and quality of the product. Even though they are a little goofy, they look “right” (to me a least) because I’ve been seeing them my whole life, and there is a certain comfort that comes from that. I also happen to find them supremely comfortable to wear on a rainy-day here in the mid-Atlantic, and a very good value considering how well they tend to hold-up.

  20. This is my third year in my first ever pair, and I really feel like they were custom made for the mild, wet winters here in southern Sweden.

  21. DC Survivor | December 6, 2014 at 6:39 pm |

    As said above, a big coup for the company. A money-maker and an interest-generator for future endeavors, which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what direction they plan on heading.

  22. Talk about the purchasing power of young people. Incredible! I’m glad to see L.L. Bean is continuing investment in Maine, and I sincerely hope this turns their leadership on to traditional items in their line-up. I own two pairs and find Bean boots wonderful three-season footwear in Chicago, even if they look a bit goofy.

  23. As I said in my previous post, I wear them in the field and they are “good”. But for the reasons mentioned by some here, I’d agree that they’re not “great”: 1. the aforementioned sole, once the tread wears off, is dangerously slick; 2. you’re encasing your foot in non-breathing rubber, so feet get damp almost immediately from sweat; 3. while the leather uppers will eventually adhere to the shape of your ankle, the rubber part never will and can chafe on long walks.

    (Anybody have any experience with Bean’s waterproof kangaroo hunting boot?)

    Still, for the price and durability, the Hunting Shoe is hard to beat. And apparently if you’re under 30, they are THE fashion statement. Even (or especially) in “the city”.

  24. Paul
    I’ve owned Browning waterproof kangaroo boots, very expensive. They are nice, warmer, more comfortable, but they are heavier and pickup mud, which makes them even more heavy. The maintenance is more time consuming.

    The L.L. Bean doesn’t become six pound weights of mud. For hunting the 12 or 14 inch boots are high enough to cross any creek or bottom land you would want without hip boots. Maintenance is a garden hose and Snow-Seal.

    I’ve never had a problem with warmth, wear thick wool socks and use the shear-ling insole. I don’t see how one’s feet get cold following a dog through hill and dale for six to eight hours.

    As for city wearing, I don’t think sitting at a desk with my feet in in hot boxes appealing, L.L. Beans or wellingtons. There are just too many more appealing leather boots, oxfords and loafer with leather and vibran (sp) soles. L.L. Beans were meant for walking on earth, not pavement or mountain climbing.

  25. Schnee’s, out in Montana, make similar hunting boots, and they have an option of a somewhat more robust sole that offers more traction.

  26. A pair of these boots and a pair or two of loafers were almost the only footwear I needed in college 30 years ago. When snow was on the ground, which was several months of the year, it seemed like everyone on campus wore these boots. But then, campus was in Brunswick, Maine; it would be difficult to find a campus closer to the source.

  27. No, they weren’t insulated, but I solved that problem by wearing two layers of socks: cotton next to my foot, and ragg wool over that.

  28. A clue to the Bean boots resurgent popularity?

    Rise of the Lumbersexual
    http://gearjunkie.com/the-rise-of-the-lumbersexual

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